When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers began their off-season this past year, it was believed that the offensive line was going to be the strength of this team, and something that they could rely on.
With two former pro bowlers in Donald Penn and Davin Joseph, it’s obvious why one would think that. Factor in the addition of all-pro Carl Nicks, and it seemed like this could, in fact, be one of the top offensive lines in the league.
Unfortunately in the middle of the second preseason game, Penn missed a block which led to Joseph’s knee getting rolled up on. Dreams of having one of the best lines in the league faded quickly, as Joseph was done for the season with a torn left patellar tendon.
That is when the shifts began, and even coach Greg Schiano acknowledged that you can’t replace a Davin Joseph. It’s just not possible. The guy who got the immediate nod going into the season, was Ted Larsen.
In 2010 when Joseph tore his triceps, Larsen filled in well so, that it made sense to give him the first shot. But on the bye week after reviewing tapes, there was a lot to be desired from Larsen, especially in the run game.
While still trying to figure out what was happening at guard, a new right tackle emerged when Jeremy Trueblood suffered an injury after the first game. Demar Dotson took over the spot and held his own against a very good New York Giants pass rush.
After the bye week, the Bucs decided to try something new out at right guard when they started Jamon Meredith, a former 5th round tackle. It paid off immediately in the run game as the Buccaneers had their best day on the ground that season.
Schiano decided to stick with the hot hand and it’s paid off. The Buccaneers are in the lower end on sacks allowed this year, and that’s credit largely to how well the line has held together despite rotating four different guys this year.
The Buccaneers face one of their bigger challenges this season, tonight against the Minnesota Vikings. Take a look at how they hold up against the pass rush of the Vikings, and you should have a good sign of where this group will be headed, from here on out.